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Not to be confused with films that merely feature the devil as a character, this is a list which is very specific in its requirements - a character needs to make a deal with some sort of demonic figure, realize that such a deal was a terrible mistake, and finally attempt to escape the repercussions of the bargain.
Honorable mention to the films based upon Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Grey - it uses a similar plot device but it unfortunately has no specific demonic figure to make it eligible for this list.
[listed in chronological order]
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Not to be confused with missing person mysteries or anything of that ilk, this is a list which is very specific in its requirements - a person needs to vanish, at least one person needs to realize that the said person has vanished, and other characters need to deny the character ever existed or was there.
[listed in chronological order]
[listed in no particular order]
[listed in chronological order]
Not to be confused with just any old chase thriller or something of that ilk, this is a list which is very specific in its requirements - a character must be framed for a crime (but is actually innocent), he must be forced to go on the run from the police, and lastly he must also figure out who the real criminals are and how to expose them.
[listed in chronological order]
This effective thriller was later remade as LEFT TURN (2001) by Sean Ellis
James Dearden, the Oscar-nominated writer for FATAL ATTRACTION and son of directing legend Basil Dearden, crafted this very effective and slick short thriller - his second after 1977's CONTRAPTION.
The film is drenched in atmosphere due to the splashes of saturated, vibrant colors Dearden lights upon the screen, the rainy streets which reflect these vivid and lush illuminations, and the eerie music that is unsettling without being overpowering.
The plot is short and to the point with small twists and turns to keep you interested from beginning to end... it's not a plot that is startling original - it's all based on the fear of hitch-hikers that seems to plague many horror and suspense films - but it's told with style and gusto.
However, the most interesting aspect is that this short film would later be re-made in 2001 as LEFT TURN by Sean Ellis, the Oscar-nominated writer-director of the short film CASHBACK (2004).
The similarities are startlingly - not only is the plot meticulously reconstructed in LEFT TURN scene for scene, but the atmosphere of the film itself is reconstructed - the Mario Bava-inspired lighting, the rainy atmosphere, the British locale, the yellow rain coat of the hitchhiker, and so on.
Which one is better? The remake is certainly more stylish and more horrific - simply because it went more shock and terror - but the original is more restrained and disquieting. It most likely will come down to the taste of the individual viewer.
It would be nice, however, if Sean Ellis gave at least *some* credit (he gave none) to this film for which his remake is based upon...
Gongdong gyeongbi guyeok JSA (2000)
Chan-wook Park's most politically-charged film tackles the very volatile tension that exists between the North and South Koreans.
Chan-wook Park's most politically-charged film tackles the very volatile tension that exists between the North and South Koreans. This could have easily been propagandistic in nature, with this South Korean film portraying the Northerners as mere caricatures of Communistic ideals, but instead the film happily sidesteps this and portrays both the North Koreans and South Koreans as kinsmen.
In the beginning of the picture, both sides have a skewed view of one another, seeing each through the lens of their political temperament - the border between the two thus is interpreted as a wall that filters and jades each one's perspective. However, once that that wall is finally crossed, the two sides realize that no wall really exists, and they begin to see each other as human beings - The soldiers first call one another "enemies", but soon they are calling one another "brothers".
The characters are richly drawn and dynamic to reflect this - each are humans, with their own unique demeanor, and that their national identity is nothing more than a facade. While the soldiers are alone, away from their government infrastructures, both sides cling to one another in fellowship as they find themselves all the same. Only when the absent governmental element is reintroduced are the soldiers forced to revert back behind their facades, and tragedy results.
A powerfully moving and keenly intelligent analysis of the confusing political situation between the two opposing governmental systems. Despite being slightly marred by a few lapses into melodrama and overstatement, that can not take away from its piercing effectiveness.
The highest recommendation possible.
Beginning shows promise, but this giallo ends up being rather pointless in the end.
A sadly disappointing giallo. The film began promisingly enough as it seemed to be playing out as a "comedy of errors" (or rather, a "thriller" of errors) as a creepy killer is paid by a man to murder his wife. The killing is easy enough, but getting...(read more) rid of the body proves difficult.
Despite an interesting premise that's brimming with promise, the film is unable to fulfill it as it screeches to a halt around the thirty minute mark. From this point on, the plot focuses upon the pointless meanderings of a couple who essentially do nothing but make love and argue.
The viewer hopes for the plot to get better once the killer confronts them, but it ends up only getting worse as we witness a brutally graphic rape and a pornographic sex scene, both of which add absolutely nothing to the proceedings. In addition, the characters perpetually make illogical and irrational choices that irritate the viewer, resulting in a film that starts off strong yet ends up being rather pointless exploitative trash.
A Little Trip to Heaven (2005)
Though certainly flawed, it is still nonetheless an interesting and engrossing thriller.
This film received mixed reviews from critics and viewers alike, some embracing its "arty" and ambiguous sensibilities, while others were displeased with it's disconnection and aloofness. As for me, I find myself edging towards the former group as as certain this as being a rather interesting, intriguing, and fascinating film, albeit flawed.
The visuals are certainly the film's strongest aspect, with its moody lighting, saturated colors, bleak landscapes, and striking camera movements that are all hypnotic and mesmerizing. All of these elements accumulate into a despairing viewing of existentialism and fate - a character stands in a field and sees everything around him, but each direction he faces is the same dreary and gloomy destination.
The acting is also superb from the entire cast, with Whitaker providing a unique accent that adds to the quirkiness of his character. Stiles is actually quite good here as well, giving one of her best performances. Last, but not least, is the criminally underrated Jeremy Renner, who gives a reliable performance as always.
I was nervous after hearing talk of the plot's ambiguity and unsatisfactory nature, but I can happily say that it is fairly solid. The narrative has a strong sense of mystery, with even some plot twists to peak the viewer's interest. The pacing is, admittedly, glacially slow and this will indeed test the patience and attention-span of its viewer (despite being only 87 minutes long). In addition, I wouldn't say the plot was anything original, but it is involving due to its characters and the sense that there's something more lurking underneath the surface.
Those who enjoy character studies and mystery films may enjoy this hybrid of the two genres, which isn't a complete success but is executed in a very effective manner.
More contemplative than thrilling, this gets under the skin more than those adrenaline-pumping, yet hollow, thrillers studios are churching out now-a-days.
Sei donne per l'assassino (1964)
Though a flawed thriller, this giallo is important from a historical perspective.
Italian horror maestro Mario Bava establishes the common motifs of the Giallo genre in this landmark film, often argued as single-handedly creating that said genre (I would argue "The Girl Who Knew Too Much" did, but either way it's still Mario Bava as the author and inventor).
From a historical standpoint, this film is very important to film scholars and genre enthusiasts - we see a new genre in the making.
However, if we remove the film from the historical context that surrounds it, the film is admittedly rather shallow as Bava certainly prefers style over substance.
Indeed, the plot's major flaw is that it lacks any protagonist (or any character in general) for the viewer to identify with, thus causing a lack of focus - we are shown a multitude of characters with no real connection to one another, thus no wholeness is established.
However, the visuals are staggering with rooms bathed in bright florescent lighting, costumes given bold hues, sets and props made of singular colors (the red mannequin), and smoothly executed camera shots. It is this visual bravura that elevates the film beyond it's rather exploitative plot to the realm of aestheticism.
The film is at its most enjoyable when viewed within its historical context, but those who are unfamiliar with the giallo genre may be underwhelmed by it's rudimentary plot, but even then the visuals should still keep the viewer engaged.
Essential viewing for giallo aficionados but those who are unfamiliar with the genre should watch a more well-rounded film like "Deep Red" as an entry point.
Though convoluted to the point of tediousness, it is still an enjoyable and entertaining giallo.
One of three gialli that Luciano Ercoli directed, and this one is probably the weakest of the set, but nevertheless is still an above average entry into the genre.
The plot is convoluted to say the least, adding an unnecessary amount of elements that add only confusion rather than mystery to the proceedings. Admittedly, the ending does come as a surprise, but this is merely because its revelation is so complex that it borders on ludicrous. The climax also is rather weak and drawn out, lapsing into a violent battle of fist and cuffs that is very much over the top.
Despite this, the characterizations are better than what is usually expected for the genre, and the film does make you want to keep watching if only to see how all the multitude of story elements work together in the end (even if it is preposterous). Another plus is that it avoids depictions of exploitative sleaze that pollutes most films of this particular genre.
On a whole, not a bad watch. Entertaining with some interesting plot twists to sustain your interest, but in the end it isn't too memorable and makes little logical sense.
À l'intérieur (2007)
Incredibly gory thriller that is surprisingly intelligent and artful!
One of the goriest films I have ever seen. Blood spews, spouts, spurts, and sprays from just about every body part, and the blood is splattered, splashed, smeared, slopped, and sloshed in just about every nook and cranny of the house.
Normally, I would immediately reject the film as nothing more than pure exploitation and try my best to forget about it, but with this picture there was something more to the proceedings than just it's blood soaked surface. Indeed, there was a great amount of intelligence behind the gore, providing ample subtext about motherhood.
For instance, director Bustillo made the strange choice of fogging the mother's home, giving it a dream-like ambiance that suggests an outward manifestation of the character's subconscious. As a result, we begin to question the validity of the proceedings - Is the black-cloaked woman a representation of the protagonist's fear of motherhood? Is the bodily torment and self-mutilation a response to the protagonist's guilt she feels for causing her husband's death? Many questions are raised and the only answer given is rather simplistic and contrived, though still logical enough to be acceptable. However, it is still ambiguous enough at the film's conclusion to allow for further pondering.
In addition to the rich subtext (and on a more visceral level), the film features stylized direction and beautifully executed sequences of creeping dread and pulse-pounding suspense that are simply a joy to behold.
However, despite these wonderful qualities, the film delves into its violent excess to an unnecessary degree, most likely only to provide shocks rather than further develop its potent subtext. Also, the inclusion to the police officers and their rapid deaths seemed pointless, and though one could argue that they were a representation of the husband's own death and her inability to save him, I would argue that there were simply included to increase the body count and add a few more shots of gooey, gunky gore.
If the gore wasn't so repulsive, I might have said this was my favorite horror film of 2007 as the intelligence and skill that went into the making of this film is very much evident. Unfortunately, Bustillo indulged a little too much in adding shock value to his film, causing him to undermine many elements within his own picture.
Flawed yet still a good movie.
La polizia chiede aiuto (1974)
Yet another solid entry into the giallo canon from director Massimo Dallamano
From Massimo Dallamano, the director of the iconic giallo "What Have You Done to Solange?", comes a pseudo-sequel of sorts, but essentially only in theme. "What Have They Done To Our Daughters?" was actually the second film in a planned trilogy of three "School Girls in Peril" gialli, but unfortunately Dallamano died before he could complete the last one (and was subsequently completed by another filmmaker).
Anyways, returning to the film in question, I actually prefer this installment to the much more praised "Solange". The main reason being that the first felt much more exploitative in nature, and thus was not as effective in my mind.
"Daughters" seems to take a more realistic approach, not focusing on the shocks found in nudity and gore as the first one seemed to revel in, but rather focusing upon the actual investigation of the crimes and how the events cause traumatic and emotional infliction upon the characters involved. Indeed, this film is much more socially minded, conveying how society often tries to exploit innocence for its own gain, and how the emotional disconnection and distance that is between the parents and their children often is what leads to their children becoming seduced by the society's malice.
In addition, the direction is solid with well executed sequences of suspense. The musical score also is terrific, giving it even more emotional dissonance.
However, despite the subtext it gives and the visual aura is possesses, the film lacks in having a strong narrative. The story adapts a police procedural formula, thus making it rather clear and focused, but unfortunately it isn't really focused on all that much. It doesn't lead to much of anywhere as we are given all the detail up front, thus causing it to feel rather dragged out. The ending is also anti-climatic.
Despite this, it's a solid entry into the giallo canon, thanks mainly to its social commentary, strong direction, and solid musical score, but the story itself is very thin and dragged out... if only it had more plot to it this could have been one of the better gialli.
La coda dello scorpione (1971)
Another solid entry into the Giallo canon from Sergio Martino
Sergio Martino may not be *the* best director of gialli, but compared to most directors who work within the confines of the genre he is certainly at least *one* of the best.
This film is one of Martino's strongest efforts, featuring a rather clever and well-constructed plot, decent characterizations (which nearly all gialli lack), a solid musical score, and well-directed suspense sequences.
In reference to the plot, the film starts are conventionally, but the film takes a surprising turn when it changes its main focus onto an entirely different character (ala "Psycho"). At this point, the narrative begins to go in more interesting directions, with plot twists referring back to the film's opening reels, thus making it more focused and tight. There is also a rather clever red herring that proves quite effective (it threw me off for a second), but unfortunately it wasn't enough to keep the ending form being so obvious as it is (to me, at least).
The suspense sequences are genuinely suspenseful, especially the sequence in the apartment building (which features a slow motion sequence to heighten the suspense) and the climax (which I will refrain from commenting on to minimize spoilers).
The film is certainly a solid entry into the giallo canon, in fact I would as go as far as saying that it's one of the better examples of the genre.
However, like the genre itself, the film suffers from lack of almost no subtext to speak of. As a result, everything is fairly shallow and not emotional evolving, despite it's well produced surface.
Still, this is nearly essential viewing for fans of giallo. For fans of thrillers I would give a recommendation. For others with only a passing interest, I actually would suggest skipping it and watching an Argento film instead.
L'uomo senza memoria (1974)
"Puzzle" is a solid entry into the Giallo canon
This little seen thriller is a solid entry into the giallo canon that was directed by Duccio Tessari (who did the equally good "The Bloodstained Butterfly") and written by Ernesto Gastaldi (who is the iconic writer of the giallo genre).
The narrative features an interesting narrative hook (a man can't remember who he is and now thugs are after him for something he hid... and he doesn't know where it is, let alone *what* it is). Unfortunately, the film doesn't utilize its intriguing plot premise to the fullest, with essentially the amnesia element pushed aside for most of the movie, and instead relies on more conventional means of telling the story. Fortunately, the writer manages to more successfully integrate the amnesia element towards the end which allow for a few plot twists, but not to the degree it could have achieved.
The direction is fine but nothing exemplary, and the performances are all solid but not particularly memorable. In other words, everything is competent and efficient, but it doesn't really standout from the majority of thrillers that saturate our viewing repertoire.
However, it certainly is an above average example of the giallo genre, with narrative that is better than most gialli and even has a terrific climax, but it's also certainly not a classic film in any respect.
Highly recommended for giallo fans, a solid recommendation to thriller aficionados, but others may wish to simply view a better example of the genre, such as "Deep Red".
Also, the film references Stanley Donan's film "Charade", see if you can catch it...